at Academy 2, Manchester
16th October 2006
Review by Steven Long from BBC Manchester
Appearing in the same old Breton fisherman jersey, with the same old overgrown page-boy haircut, cherry red Gibson SG and armed with more great tunes than he knows what to do with, Evan Dando and his two new Lemonheads totally slayed the Academy 2 crowd. With a generous selection of songs plucked from albums dating back to 1990 this was the sort of high quality pop-rock display that so many bands strive for but so often fail to deliver. So what does Evan Dando have? Probably everything that a legendary rock star needs, with the obvious exception of a soul which he probably sold to a devilish dealer in the mid nineties. Undoubtedly damaged by his journey down to rock n roll’s underworld, Evan Dando, has, as part of this Faustian pact, held onto to his remarkable facility to write great tunes, and to his Gram Parsons-ish voice that still catches something somewhere around every listener’s heart. Ally this to a dynamic and powerful rhythm section (the fantastic Devon Ashley on drums and Vess Ruhtenberg on bass both from The Pieces) and you have a reincarnation of the Lemonheads, maybe better than the original line up.
However, there is a downside to a past playing with rock n roll fire and like Frankenstein’s monster you can imagine Evan Dando being charged up and pushed onto to stage every night. Consequently there’s no stage chatter, very little movement and no sparkle in the eyes, but no-one cares too much when the songs are as magnificent as this. A concluding Drug Buddy was a fine example of the night, every word sung back with greater volume than the Lemonheads could manage even with the volume at eleven, it’s narcotic reverie about friendship and good times taken intravenously by an audience totally in thrall to one of the great songwriters operating in Rock n’ Roll today. Evan Dando with his two cohorts could do no wrong. Quite simply, gig of the year.